The two-time track champion powered his No. 15 Chevrolet past the No. 1 Ford of defending track champion Zeke Shell on lap 37 and cruised to the win the 60-lap Late Model Stock feature.
It was the third win in four NASCAR Whelen All-American Series races for the Abingdon driver at Kingsport this season, but it came in his first appearance at the three-eighths-mile concrete oval since April.
After a malfunction in the pits during a Thursday practice, VanDyke said he thought about not even racing Friday. He changed his mind and was rewarded with a fast car that moved from fifth to second by lap 10.
“We made one run yesterday on some old shocks and the car was bouncing all over the place,” VanDyke said. “We came in the pits, jacked the car up and somehow it popped off the jack stands. It wadded it up beside the rocker panel and we had to take it back to the house.
“We worked all night long to get it ready. I about said, ‘Forget it, let’s go to the lake today.’ But we pushed through and got it straightened out. We put a good setup on it this morning and it’s been fast ever since.”
Shell took the lead from pole-sitter Derek Lane of Kingsport on the eighth lap. The Johnson City driver held off VanDyke as long as he could before the No. 15 scooted by. Shell finished two seconds behind VanDyke in second place.
“He did a smooth bump-and-run job and got by me,” Shell said. “Even if I could have gotten beside him, he was going to drive away. I didn’t have the speed.”
Points leader Nik Williams of Chuckey rounded out the top three. He wasn’t able to close on the first two, blaming himself after taking early damage to his No. 32 Chevrolet.
“I got into the wall at the first of the race trying to pass on the outside,” Williams said. “It scooted the rear end over and I’m not sure what else it did, but the car wasn’t right after that. We had to salvage a third-place finish. In lap times, we were close to the first two, but the car wouldn’t turn after that early deal.”
Lane settled for a solid fourth-place run. Outside pole-winner Joey Trent of Gray rounded out the top five.
THE MOD SQUADS
Trey Lane won a battle of Kingsport drivers in the Mod Street division, powering his No. 9 Dodge Challenger to the win over Royce Peters.
It was Lane’s sixth victory of the season. Peters’ son, Austin, completed the top three.
Kevin Canter of Abingdon continued to dominate the Mod 4 ranks with his track-leading 11th win of the season. Kirby Gobble finished second and Hershell Robinette, Canter’s grandfather, rounded out the top three.
Dungannon’s Tony Dockery emerged from a chaotic battle at the front of the field and drove his No. 05 Camaro to his first Pure Street victory of the year. Doug Austin finished second and Mike Mays third.
Kingsport’s Keith Helton engaged Josh Detwiler in a seven-lap, side-by-side battle for the lead on his way to the Pure 4 win. After getting by Detwiler, Helton held off defending division champion Bruce Crumbley for his eighth win of the year.